Demola Ojo in Lagos and Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
Shuaibu Amodu, the only man to have qualified Nigeria for two World Cup finals, was laid to rest amidst crying and wailing by his family members and friends yesterday evening. The remains of the Nigeria Football Federation Technical Director was committed to Mother Earth at his residence in Okpella, Etsako East local government area of Edo state.
Amodu, who coached the Nigerian senior football team –the Super Eagles – on four different occasions, passed away early yesterday morning in his sleep in Benin City, Edo State, after complaining of chest problems.
The death of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Technical Director comes just days after former Nigeria coach and captain, Stephen Keshi, passed away aged 54 in the same city.
The late Amodu’s body was lowered into the grave at about 5:07pm, after his body had earlier been brought to Okpella from Stella Obasanjo Hospital in Benin. At about 12:30pm, he was brought out from the inner chambers of his house for internment.
Between the arrival of the body and the interment, which lasted about five hours, family members, neighbours, journalists and residents of Okpella gathered in the late Amodu’s compound discussing his passage just four days after that of Keshi. Some family members and neighbours could not hold their emotions as they cried and wailed uncontrollably.
At about 4pm, mother of the late Amodu, who had earlier been taken to the palace of the Okuokpellagbe of Okpella, Alhaji A.Y.E. Dirisu, came back to the compound after she had been informed of her son’s death.
A cousin of the deceased who is also the Commissioner for Information in Edo State, Kazeem Afegbua, said Amodu died in his sleep at about 4am yesterday morning. He said Amodu, who led prayers before the family went to bed the night before, only complained of chest pain.
Afegbua said a doctor was called to the house to check Amodu. “He was checked and certified okay and they all went to bed. He was actually a BP patient and his BP last night when the doctor checked was 140/100. The doctor only warned him to stop fasting.
“After the prayers, he went to bed but asked that he be woken at 4am to prepare for the fast. It was around four they tried to wake him to prepare for the Muslim fasting. That was all. He didn’t wake up,” Afegbua said.
Amodu, who began his coaching career with BCC Lions of Gboko and also handled rivals El-Kanemi Warriors of Maiduguri, is the most decorated coach in Nigerian FA Cup history, having won it in 1989, 1992, 1993 and 1994. He won the Nigeria League and Cup double in 1994, and won the Super Cup in 1989, 1993 and 1994. He also managed South African giants Orlando Pirates between 1996 and 1997.
An NFF statement said: “Amodu’s name was synonymous with the Super Eagles. You can’t talk about the history of Super Eagles without Amodu getting prominent chapters.” Amodu qualified the Super Eagles for the FIFA World Cup in 2002 and 2010, but did not lead the team to the finals. He also qualified the Beach Soccer National Team for the 2006 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, but did not lead the team at the finals as he refused to travel to Brazil.
“As Technical Director he was known to be hypertensive, and had rejected taking over the Super Eagles coaching job in February on this ground,” the NFF statement revealed.
Amodu first shot to prominence when he guided BCC Lions to win the now-defunct African Cup Winners Cup in 1990. His team reached the final of the same competition the following year but lost to Zambian side Power Dynamos 5-4 on aggregate in 1991.
Three years later Amodu replaced Dutchman Clemens Westerhof as Super Eagles coach in 1994 and then led the reigning African Champions to fourth place at the 1995 King Fahd Cup (now renamed Fifa Confederations Cup) before his exit later that year. He returned to manage the team again from 1998-99, 2001-02 and 2008-2010.
Amodu helped the country qualify for the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea and led them to a third-place finish in the 2002 Nations Cup in Mali.
Under his stewardship, Nigeria again qualified for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa but Amodu was sacked despite the team’s third-place finish at the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations in Angola.
It was the second time he had been removed from his post ahead of a World Cup finals tournament – Amodu was also fired ahead of the 2002 edition after Nigeria finished third at the 2002 Nations Cup.
Before the observation of funeral rites for Amodu, a special prayer, led by Ustaz Ahmed Shehu, was offered for the repose of his soul. In his remarks, Ustaz Shehu described the death of Amodu as a great loss to Okpella community, Etsako nation, Edo State and the nation at large.
Members of the Nigerian football family including the Secretary General of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Mohammed Sanusi; chairman of the Edo Football Association, Frank Ilaboya; Robinson Okosun and other football and sports enthusiasts gathered at the late Amodu’s residence to pay their last respect.
Top officials of the Edo State government such as the late Amodu’s cousin and Edo State Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Prince Kassim Afegbua; Commissioner for Environment, Clem Agba, and other notable personalities from Afemai, also attended the burial.
Hundreds of residents of Okpella were not left out as they trooped out to honour one of their foremost sons. The late soccer tactician was survived by his late wife, Kuburat; seven children, mother, brother and sisters.